This easy and delectable recipe combines fresh fish with a few simple ingredients to make salmon cakes with balsamic sauce.
From the moment I knew we’d be visiting my home state of Oregon during salmon season, I had my heart- and my taste buds- set on enjoying all kinds of fresh salmon awesomeness. My mom lives right on the Santiam River, which can be prime salmon-catching waters. I spent several weeks dreaming of the goodness we could cook up with fresh-caught fish.
My mom suggested making salmon cakes with balsamic sauce. I don’t have much experience preparing fresh fish, but I do have plenty of experience eating a variety of fish and seafood cakes, and I love balsamic vinegar. I immediately knew she had to make the recipe and I had to share it here.
My mom is a phenomenal cook; I never doubted these salmon cakes would be anything but extraordinary. The recipe is fairly simple and can be easily adapted to be gluten-free. Basically, she begins by poaching the salmon and mixing up the easy three ingredient sauce. She usually uses red wine vinegar instead of balsamic, but I love balsamic and this is my blog, so we’re going with it.
No spices or seasonings are added to the breadcrumbs; they really aren’t necessary because the fresh salmon is the star. You could go crazy and add garlic, diced onion, or the fresh herbs of your choice, but these salmon cakes really are perfect just the way they are.
We enjoyed the salmon cakes plain with the sauce for dipping. The salmon cakes would make great sliders, though; my mom suggests tossing chopped cabbage with the balsamic sauce to serve on top. You could also make the cakes smaller- bite-sized- if serving at a party.
Salmon Cakes with Balsamic Sauce
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. fresh salmon (or 3-4 cans)
2 c. panko breadcrumbs
2 c. Italian breadcrumbs
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
1 tbs. sugar
Begin by poaching the salmon (if you’re using canned salmon, skip to the next paragraph): heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place salmon in the skillet and cook for about ten minutes on one side, or until the color lightens to light pink. Turn and cook about five minutes on the other side. Your salmon might cook faster; it’s important to remove it from the oil before it turns white (that means it’s cooked through).
While the salmon is cooking, combine the panko and Italian breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl, beat together the eggs and the milk. In a third medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. Taste the sauce and add more balsamic vinegar as desired.
Transfer cooked salmon to a large bowl. Use your fingers to gently break it apart, removing any bones you find. If using fresh salmon, add about a half cup each of the egg and breadcrumb mixtures to the salmon and toss to combine (this is to help the fish bind together into cakes; canned salmon should bind on its own).
Pour about a half inch of vegetable oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the salmon mixture into balls slightly larger than golf balls and then gently flatten into patties. Hold the patty in one hand and use the other to paint the patty on both sides with the egg mixture. Use the same technique to sprinkle the patty generously with breadcrumbs (this technique is necessary because the cakes are too delicate to toss in the mixtures).
Place the breaded cakes in the hot oil and cook for three to five minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and serve hot with the balsamic sauce.